The UN, Coalitions, and Rhetoric
Critics of the UN should admit that the organization has been successful in attempting to stop human rights abuses in Libya. I'm still unconvinced about the motives behind this intervention, but the overtly stated reasons for it are to protect civilians from atrocities committed by the Libyan government. This is what critics have accused the UN of failing to do for years. They've done it now and they've done it fairly quickly. What this should really show to people is how the UN works. The UN does what its strongest members want it to do. The deficiencies that critics harp on result from the agenda of those nations. If the UN doesn't act it's because the USA, UK, France, Russia, or China don't want it to. In the case of Libya it's clear that America, Britain, and France want to act and Russia and China want other people to act.

It's interesting to compare the world response to Iraq and Libya. Bush needed to bribe most of the nations in his coalition while Obama has a true "coalition of the willing". I think we should be careful to give Obama credit for this. There's something we don't see going on here, but I do think the powerful nations of the world must have been sick of Gaddafi in a way they weren't for Saddam. Muammar must have done something wrong. It is possible though that Obama's rhetoric was much better than Bush's. It's not like Arab League nations loved Saddam. They historically had more to fear from him than Gaddafi. Bush came out with "Axis of Evil" though, while Obama has engaged the Arab and Muslim world. For that I think Obama deserves credit.

Many people are trying to give Bush credit for the latest surge of democracy movements across the Middle East and North Africa. I'm not going to dismiss it outright, but I do find it hard to accept. If anything, I think Bush's actions amped up the cynicism against pro-democracy rhetoric. It's tough to ignore the national security rhetoric that Iraq War supporters used to promote the war at home. I think it's interesting that with during the Obama administration's time pro-democracy movements are taking the initiative and spreading. I don't really know what to make of that, but it's certainly different.
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